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Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 10:08 UK

Opening ceremony photos

A traditional Chinese dragon and dancer entertain the crowds

An array of colourful costumes and props provide a superb spectacle for the 90,000 ahead of the main event of the sweltering evening

Drummers beat out the countdown

After a seven year wait the opening ceremony finally gets underway with 2,008 drummers creating an incredible countdown

The first batch of an estimated 20,000 fireworks light up Beijing's night sky

The first batch of an estimated 20,000 fireworks light up Beijing's night sky with excitement at fever pitch inside the stadium

The Chinese flag is raised

The Chinese flag arrives in the arena and is then raised to loud cheers from the crowd as the opening ceremony hots up

The Olympic rings are hoisted into the night sky

Thousands of specks of light make up the Olympic rings on the floor of the arena and are then magically lifted into the sky

Artists emerge to symbolise the age of Chinese philosopher Confucius

Artists emerge to symbolise the age of Chinese philosopher Confucius wearing some of the 15,153 striking costumes on offer

A giant manuscript surrounded by huge pillars

The ceremony portrays 5,000 years of Chinese history, cleverly highlighting achievements in art, music and science

Giant grey boxes representing printing blocks from ancient China

In an incredible display of choreography, grey boxes representing printing blocks from ancient China, morph into different characters

The Silk Road that linked China to the west is portrayed using a host of blue-robed oarsmen

The Silk Road that linked China to the west is portrayed using blue-robed oarsmen who use giant paddles to create striking images

Hundreds of dancers covered in green sparkling lights emerge

The breathtaking ceremony leaves spectators in awe as dancers covered in light enter the fray to reflect modernity

A solitary Chinese girl is lifted into the sky by her kite

With the arena floor transformed into a fluorescent mass of colour a solitary Chinese girl is lifted into the sky by her kite

A globe is introduced

The crowd are thrilled as a 16-tonne globe dramatically emerges from the arena with dancers circumnavigating the continents

Sarah Brightman and Chinese pop star Liu Huan

Sarah Brightman and Chinese pop star Liu Huan provide a change of tack as they sing a specially commissioned theme song for the Games

The opening section of the stunning ceremony draws to a close with another spectacular fireworks display

The opening section of the memorable ceremony draws to a close with another spectacular fireworks display

Greece opens the parade of the 204 competing nations

Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, opens the parade of the 204 competing nations with the team's flag carried by judoka Ilias Iliadis

Mark Foster leads the Great Britain team into the stadium

After a lengthy wait, Mark Foster leads the Great Britain team into the stadium while proudly holding aloft the Union Flag

The crowd erupts as basketball player Yao Ming leads the host nation into the stadium with the tiny Sichuan earthquake survivor Lin Hao

The crowd erupts as basketball player Yao Ming leads the host nation into the stadium with tiny Sichuan earthquake survivor Lin Hao

The Olympic flag arrives in the stadium

Chinese President Hu Jintao declares the Games open shortly before the Olympic flag is raised while the Olympic anthem is sung

China's three-times gold medal winning gymnast Li Ning

China's three-times gold medal winning gymnast Li Ning is suspended high in the stadium and will soon light the Olympic flame

The Olympic flame is ignited

After running around the entire rim of the Bird's Nest stadium suspended on a wire, Li lights the fuse that ignites the cauldron

The assembled athletes gather below the flame

The assembled athletes gather below the flame that will burn above the Olympic stadium over the next 16 days of Olympic competition




see also
Games begin with spectacular show
08 Aug 08 |  Olympics
How does Olympic ceremony compare?
08 Aug 08 |  Olympics
We want your Olympics photos
06 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Picture power: Lighting the flame
11 Aug 08 |  Olympics


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